The stunning cover for Writers of the Future 32 was created by Sergey Poyarkov and captures the imaginative worlds represented in this best-selling anthology series. Also included in this volume are full color reproductions of the artwork gracing each story. The Illustrators of the Future is an integral part of the annual Writers of the Future series. Represented here are illustrators extraordinaire Killian McKeown, Paul Otteni, Talia Spencer, Irvin Rodriguez, Maricela Ugarte Pena, Elder Zakirov, Rob Hassan, Adrian Massaro, Preston Stone, Vlada Monakhova, Brandon knight, Jonas Spokas, Daniel Tyka, Dino Hadziavdic, Camber Arnhart, and Christina Alberici. Each piece of artwork is rich with imagery and imagination, all the result of these artists putting their talent to work creating a representational scene for each story.
The stories themselves are all highly entertaining, and each year I’ve come to rely on the WOTF anthology as a source of creative inspiration. The stories are fresh, original and wildly imaginative. There is no other anthology series that pleases me as much as the WOTF books. As expected, WOTF kicks off to a high-octane start with “The Star Tree” by John Lasser, a heartfelt tale about loss involving trading cards that hold the memories of entire worlds. This is followed by Stewart C. Baker’s “Images Across a Shattered Sea,” a short but provocative tale about choices and their ramifications; and then “Mobius” by Christoph Weber which is a startling and pleasing futuristic tale about life, death and something more.
The reader is invited to pause at this juncture with two pieces from the WOTF creator, L. Ron Hubbard himself. First is a bit of insightful whimsy titled “How to Drive a Writer Crazy,” followed by a vintage science fiction piece called “The Last Admiral,” all of which should whet your appetite for any of the vintage LRH reprints now offered by Galaxy Press.
Plunging onward, the reader will meet a story titled “The Jack of Souls” by Stephen Merlino, which, like its predecessors, is jam-packed with mood, imagery, insight and thrills. You’ll never think about card-playing the same way again. “Swords Like Lightning, Hooves Like Thunder” by K. D. Julicher is among the longer tales, but a fantasy so compelling I couldn’t put it down. I hope to read more about Yvina in the future. This is followed by an essay by Tim Powers (yes, that Tim Powers) called “Where Steampunk Started,” and this in turn is bookmarked with an original steampunk story by The Runelords author (and contest judge) David Farland. By the time I reached this page in the book (page 180), I was dazzled by the incredible energy and creativity evident in each selection.
“Squalor and Sympathy” by Matt Dovey is a brilliant tale about a factory worker named Anna, and then onward to “Dinosaur Dreams In Infinite Measure” by Rachel K. Jones which is an amazing tale about a girl whose mother created a dinosaur engine. By the time I finished reading the stories by Matt Dovey and Rachel K. Jones I was reminded yet again why this contest is called Writers of the Future. I can’t wait to read more stories by all of these authors. “Cry Havoc” by Julie Frost is powerful, bizarre and haunting; and “A Glamour In the Black” by Sylvia Anna Hiven is seductive and mesmerizing. Ryan Row’s “The Broad Sky Was Mine, And the Road” is a vivid, first-rate tale with a beautifully written final paragraph that encapsulates Row’s talent.
Celebrated best-selling author, and one of the contest judges, Brandon Sanderson offers a riveting essay on the craft of writing titled “The Fine Distinction Between Cooks and Chefs.” Then former WOTF winner and now best-selling author Sean Williams treats us to a delicious tale called “The Jade Woman of the Luminous Star.” The next story is “Freeboot” by R. M. Graves, a lushly atmospheric tale in the classic science fiction mode; and “Last Sunset for The World Weary” by H. L. Fullerton is a lyrical tale about the world ending, and finally “The Sun Falls Apart” by J. W. Alden takes us to an imaginative place where sunlight is something to be desired. All of these stories are sparkling with ideas, both enigmatic and entertaining. Writers of the Future 32 concludes with two short essays on art, one by Sergey Poyarkov and the other by Bob Eggleton. I didn’t simply just read WOTF 32, I devoured it. Congratulations to all participants!